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COM/DGX/tcg Mailed 3/16/2007
Decision 07-03-045 March 15, 2007
BEFORE THE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
In the Matter of the Application of Southern California Edison Company (U 338-E) for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity Concerning the Antelope-Vincent 500kV (Segment 2) and Antelope-Tehachapi 500kV and 220kV (Segment 3) Transmission Projects as Required by Decision 04-06-010 and as Modified by Subsequent Assigned Commissioner Ruling.
(Filed December 9, 2004)
(See Attachment C for List of Appearances.)
OPINION GRANTING A CERTIFICATE OF PUBLIC CONVENIENCE AND NECESSITY
OPINION GRANTING A CERTIFICATE OF PUBLIC
CONVENIENCE AND NECESSITY 1
I. Summary 2
II. Background 5
A. Procedural History 5
B. Scope of the Proceeding 9
III. Project Need Pursuant to § 399.25 11
A. Background 11
B. Project Need Based on the Record and SCE's Arguments 11
C. The Standard 14
D. Discussion 16
IV. Alternatives to the Proposed Project and the No Project Alternative 18
A. Alternatives to the Proposed Project 18
B. The No Project Alternative 21
V. Tehachapi-Vincent Transmission Project and Route Alternatives 24
A. Description of Proposed Route 26
B. Alternatives Presented in the Draft EIR 28
1. Option A (Segment 2) 28
2. Option B (Segment 2) 29
3. Alternative 1: Substation 2C to Substation One via Cameron
Canyon Road (Segment 3B) 30
4. Alternative 2: Substation 1B to Antelope via 100th Street
(Segments 3A/3B) 30
5. Alternative 3: Antelope-Vincent Re-route 1 (Segment 2) 32
6. Alternative 4: Antelope-Vincent Re-route 2 (Segment 2) 33
VI. Environmental Impacts of the Tehachapi-Vincent Transmission
Project and Route Alternatives 34
A. Impacts on Visual Resources 35
B. Land Use and Public Recreation/Population and Housing 37
1. Elimination of Existing Residences 38
2. Adverse Impacts to Planned Development 39
3. Adverse Impacts to Planned School Sites 40
C. Agricultural Resources 41
D. Noise 43
E. Air Quality 45
VII. Project Authorization, CEQA Certification and Statement of
Overriding Considerations 46
A. Environmentally Superior Alternative 48
B. Project Authorization 52
C. Statement of Overriding Considerations 55
D. Mitigation Monitoring 57
VIII. EMF Issues 58
A. Background 58
B. EMF Management Plan for the Tehachapi-Vincent
Transmission Project 59
IX. Cost Recovery Issues Raised by § 399.25 61
A. Background 61
B. Discussion 63
X. Maximum Cost Pursuant to Pub. Util. Code § 1005.5(a) 66
XI. Comments on Proposed Decision 67
A. Mitigation Measures V-16b, V-16c and V-16d 69
B. Mitigation Measure V.1a 69
C. Mitigation V-1e 70
D. Mitigation Measure V-1f 70
E. Mitigation Measure V-5 71
F. Mitigation Measure AG-4 71
G. Mitigation Measure N-1 71
H. Mitigation Measure N-3a 71
I. Mitigation Measure H-1b 72
J. Other Requested Changes to the Proposed Decision 72
XII. Assignment of Proceeding 73
Findings of Fact 73
Conclusions of Law 77
Attachment A - Environmental Mitigation Measures Applicable to
Approved Transmission Project
Attachment B - CEQA Findings of Fact
Attachment C - List of Appearances
OPINION GRANTING CERTIFICATE OF
PUBLIC CONVENIENCE AND NECESSITY
This decision grants a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) to Southern California Edison Company (SCE) to construct a transmission facility in the wind rich Tehachapi region of California. Pursuant to §§ 399.25 and 1001 of the Public Utilities Code,1 this decision grants SCE the authority to construct the Antelope-Vincent (Segment 2) and the Antelope-Tehachapi (Segment 3) transmission line projects, (together the "Tehachapi-Vincent Transmission Project") 2 in order to ensure access to wind power development in the Tehachapi area and to prevent overloading of existing transmission facilities. The facilities to be constructed pursuant to this decision will be located in Los Angeles and Kern Counties. Our finding of need for this Tehachapi-Vincent Transmission Project implements a series of earlier determinations made by this Commission regarding the need to construct transmission lines to the Tehachapi region to facilitate the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) goals set forth in § 399.11, et seq.3 Those Commission Decisions (D.) include, without limitation, D.03-07-033, D.04-06-010, and D.06-06-034.
Section 399.25 directs the Commission to deem necessary those transmission facilities identified in applications if the proposed facilities are necessary to facilitate achievement of the State's renewable power goals. Section 399.25 also provides a "backstop" cost mechanism allowing the utilities to recover through retail rates any costs of the above facilities that are not approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for recovery through transmission rates.
In D.06-06-034 we, among other things, adopted principles for applying the backstop cost recovery mechanism created by § 399.25. Noting our determination in D.04-06-010 regarding the magnitude and concentration of the renewable resources located in the Tehachapi area and identified in the California Energy Commission's November 19, 2003 "Renewable Resource Development Report," (CEC Report)4 we concluded that the costs associated with high-voltage, bulk-transfer, multi-user transmission facilities proposed to access known, concentrated renewable resource areas are eligible for cost recovery under § 399.25. (D.06-06-034, mimeo. at p. 27.)
The Commission made a preliminary finding of need for the project in D.04-06-010. Affirming both D.04-06-010 and D.06-06-034, this decision finds, among other things, that the Tehachapi-Vincent Transmission Project is such a high voltage, bulk-transfer, multi-user facility that is needed to access a concentrated renewable resource area. Consequently, the project is eligible for cost recovery through retail rates under § 399.25, to the extent such cost recovery is necessary.
Pursuant to § 1005.5(a), we adopt cost caps of $63 million for Segment 2 and $102.1 million for Segment 3. These costs are in 2005 dollars. SCE may apply for a higher maximum cost if it can provide adequate justification, and must apply for a lower maximum if it appears that actual cost will be lower than the adopted estimated by at least 1%.
The Tehachapi-Vincent Transmission Project would include the construction of 56.8 miles of new 500/220 kilovolt (kV) transmission. Segment 2, a 21.1 mile 500 kV line initially energized at 220 kV, and a 0.6 mile 220 kV line would connect the existing Antelope and Vincent Substations in Los Angeles County. Segment 3A, a 25.6 mile 500 kV line also initially energized at 220 kV, would connect the existing Antelope Substation to a new Substation One to be constructed in Kern County. Segment 3B, a 9.6 mile 220 kV line, would connect the new Substation One to a new Substation Two, also located in Kern County.
The Final Environmental Impact Report (Final EIR) for the Tehachapi-Vincent Transmission Project, was prepared by the Commission pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).5 The Final EIR finds that the authorized project has several significant environmental impacts that cannot be mitigated. We adopt the mitigation measures recommended in the Final EIR in order to reduce the environmental impacts to the extent feasible; however, some impacts will remain significant even after the implementation of mitigation. The approved mitigation measures are contained in Attachment A to this decision. The Commission also adopts the mitigation monitoring plan proposed in the Final EIR. SCE must comply with the adopted mitigation measures and mitigation monitoring plan as a condition of accepting its CPCN. We certify that the Final EIR has been completed in compliance with CEQA. Our formal certification can be found in Section VII below.
Upon balancing the substantial economic, operational, legal, technological, social, and other benefits of the proposed Tehachapi-Vincent Transmission Project against the unavoidable environmental impacts, we find that the project should be approved, with the conditions contained in this decision. By this decision, we adopt the included statement of overriding considerations for the authorized Tehachapi-Vincent Transmission Project, as required by CEQA.
In addition, the EIR identifies an environmentally superior alternative that differs from the SCE's proposal. We are approving the project as proposed by SCE, rather than the environmentally-preferred alternative. This issue is discussed in more detail below.
1 Unless otherwise indicated, statutory references are to the California Public Utilities Code.
2 The Tehachapi-Vincent Transmission Project has also been referred to as "Segment 2" and "Segment 3" of the "Antelope Transmission Project" or of the "Tehachapi upgrades." Hereinafter, all the upgrades in the region needed to bring Tehachapi wind to the electric grid will be referred to collectively as the "Tehachapi Renewable Transmission Plan" or "TRTP".
3 No party to this proceeding disputes that the project is needed.
4 "Renewable Resource Development Report," CEC Publication Number 500-03-080F, November 2003.
5 Public Resources Code § 21000 et seq.